The Kaizen philosophy asserts that customer satisfaction is rooted in three areas—quality, cost, and delivery—with quality being the most critical objective. Logically, if you are not meeting customer requirements, the customer will look elsewhere for a supplier. This ideology further espouses that all three objectives can be achieved simultaneously. In other words, quality can be achieved without compromising (or sacrificing) delivery and cost. How? By having your team members make small, but constant, improvements that identify and eliminate wasted effort and tasks that do nothing to satisfy customer needs. Your employees are your ultimate resource for implementing the Kaizen philosophy in your operations.
Management’s function in a Kaizen environment is two-fold. First, management must set the direction of the company. This includes all the activities that are usually associated with management: product and capital planning, establishing targets and objectives, providing resources, and so on. Second, management must establish an environment that recognizes employees as valuable assets and resources for continuous improvement.
The management team must foster an environment that not only allows the employee to contribute, but requires the employee to contribute. While suggestion systems and mandatory Kaizen continuous improvement events are good practices to help to reduce waste, a better place to begin is by showing your employees how to recognize waste and work to eliminate it.
Making Kaizen Work in Your Facility
- Train your team in the concepts of the Kaizen philosophy, which is to recognize and eliminate waste.
- Make sure that every team member understands that they are working for the customer—either the end customer or an internal customer.
- Make sure that management understands that their primary purpose is to support production.
- Make continuous improvement a required activity for all.
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